A group of vigorous, hardy climbing shrubs grown for their attractive foliage, flowers and sometimes edible fruit.
Botanical Name: Actinidia (ak-tin-id-ee-a)
Common Names: Kiwi fruit, Chinese gooseberry, yangtao
Foliage: Deciduous, simple green, broadly ovate leaves. Can be attractively variegated in some species.
Flowers: Pendulous clusters of creamy-white or pale apricot-yellow flowers, produced on short spurs in summer. Often scented.
Fruits: On female plants the flowers are followed by, brown, hairy, palatable fruits, in late summer. Plants of both sexes are required to produce fruits, although self-fertile varieties are available.
Flowering Period: Late spring to early summer.
Soil: Moist but well-drained fertile soil (sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Best in full sun. Grow in a south or west facing aspect, in a sheltered location.
Habit: Climbing, twining.
Type: Shrubby climber.
Origin: East Asia.
Hardiness: Hardy in UK, although prone to late frost damage.
Grow on a warm sheltered south or west-facing wall, pergola or other sturdy support. Plant in a fertile, well-drained soil in early autumn or spring.
Provide a sturdy climbing support and tie shoots in as they grow.
Suitable for city gardens. Can be grown in a large pot but this would need some protection in winter.
Full sun is needed to bring out the colours of the foliage. Tie shoots into supports as they grow.
Keep the soil moist and do not let it dry out.
Trim away any frost damaged shoots in late spring. Cut out older growths and tie in replacement shoots during the summer.
Plants grown for fruit should also be pruned when dormant in winter to maintain a tidy condition and encourage fruit bearing spurs.
Generally pest and disease free. Certain varieties can be affected by honey fungus and phytophthora.
Take semi-ripe cuttings in July and root in a propagator. Actinidia can also be propagated by layering.
Actinidia arguta (hardy kiwi) is a compact form that bears smaller fruits than A. chinensis. Cultivar 'Issai' is self fertile. Supported height to 12ft (4m) or more.
Actinidia kolomikta (RHS AGM) is an elegant, less-vigorous species with white, pink-flushed leaf-tips. Fragrant white flowers in June. Supported height to 10ft (3m) or more.
Actinidia chinensis (Chinese gooseberry) is a vigorous climber with hairy stems carrying large heart-shaped leaves. Supported height to 30ft (9m) or more.
Actinidia deliciosa (smooth-skinned kiwi) is a vigorous climber with broad heart-shaped, mid-green leaves. On female plants the attractive creamy white flowers are followed by greenish brown fruit in autumn. Supported height to 30ft (9m) or more.